Talib Kweli Cancels After Venue Books Alleged White Nationalist Band

Talib Kweli
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– Talib Kweli
Talib Kweli performs at the 2016 Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival in New York City July 16.

Talib Kweli canceled his upcoming concert at The Riot Room in Kansas City, Mo., after learning that the venue booked the allegedly racist Norwegian metal band Taake.

Kweli was slated to play at the venue Feb. 21 but canceled after learning from his fans that the room booked Taake for a March 31 show. At press time, tickets to Taake’s concert were still up on The Riot Room’s website and on Ticketfly.

“My position is that the venue should not want to host that band whether the band cancelled or not and should issue an apology for even booking the band,” Kweli said in a statement. “The response I received was that the venue did not want to choose sides between a band that sympathizes with racism and bigotry and me.

“I think it’s time to choose a side. I find it appalling that The Riot Room refuses to apologize for booking this band. I wouldn’t feel safe bringing my team, family and fans into a venue that is sympathetic to white nationalism, so I’ve canceled the show. It’s a shame because I was really looking forward to performing in Kansas City.”

Taake is facing accusations of racism after a video surfaced of the band’s front-man appearing onstage with a swastika drawn on his chest during a 2007 show in Germany. Some of the band’s songs also allegedly have racist and xenophobic lyrics.

The controversy resulted in Taake’s March 24 show at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge and March 30 show at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge getting canceled by the venues.  

The band’s singer responded to the cancellations with statement on Facebook that said, “I have clearly explained many times throughout the years that me wearing a swastika once at a German concert was not at all meant to show support for the Nazi ideology. It was all about doing something extreme for the sake of it, which certainly backfired.”

“But it has now been 11 years and the band has even performed in Israel (!) Anyway, similar incidents have not happened in Taake’s 25-year long career and will obviously not happen again.”

Goth artist King Dude, who was set to open the group on its upcoming North American tour, dropped out after the cancellations.

“For reasons out of my control, and frankly out of my realm of understanding, I will be removing myself from the tour with Taake,” he said in a statement.

The Riot Room did not respond to Pollstar’s phone calls at press time.